“Going to school meant skipping a meal and walking 10 km a day,” says Josh Mahinay. “Walking had become an inevitable choice because the habal-habal (tricycle) fare can be saved for food.
I have a very vivid memory of the times I had to ask for a free plastic bag from a nearby sari-sari (retail) store to put my things in. I had been a regular face in the store because the plastic bag ripped almost every day….Walking down the beaten path, confined to mountains all around, I saw limitations everywhere. For a child who does not ask for much, I treasured one question – ‘What’s behind those mountains?’”
Josh left the Philippines in 2007: he had to step up to provide for his family. He worked in the U.S. for five years, accomplished his task, and returned to his country. At age 26, he founded a social entrepreneurship venture, BAG943. The Bag of Dreams project. Buy One Give One.
His riveting story published by Rappler.com shows how education was a primary vehicle for his being able to start this venture. Today, with every bag purchase, another bag is given to an impoverished child from a pool of adopted public schools throughout the Philippines. “What I am doing right now,” he says, “is a product of what people did for me.
“I was in 4th grade when I received my very first decent bag, a gift from a distant relative….Receiving that bag made me realize that while I was in the midst of an almost forgotten village, someone was actually thinking about me. It made me feel like someone made an investment in me so it empowered me to do better in school.
“Because someone believed in me, I started believing in myself. Having a school bag like my classmates gave me the confidence to dream the kind of dreams that they have, or maybe bigger.”
I encourage you to read the entire article and be challenged to seek out ways to help in your community, or the larger, global community. Education matters. As he envisioned this project, Josh was afraid, but fear activated faith as he started a business to champion education for the poor.
BAG. Be A Giver.